Another page in Noah’s vivid history from its founding in 2000, through the terrifying pandemic of 2020
On the 27th March the Governor of Tokyo announced that the city was going to be banning large public gatherings in order to try and control the Coronavirus outbreak, NOAH held on for their rearranged Yokohama Radiant Halls event (with the last pre-matches, plus the much anticipated NOAH vs All Japan), but sadly the news came a few hours later that the Governor of Yokohama had decreed the same, and for the second time a Yokohama event had to be cancelled. But what to do about Korakuen Hall, what to do about the title matches? NOAH management moved quickly and spoke with the city officials and a deal was arranged in that for the first time ever NOAH would hold an event with only four title matches and in an empty arena. That arena would be Korakuen Hall.
Aside from the fans being absent making Korakuen eerily quiet with only the creak of the gates, the groan of the canvas and the whirr of the cameras, NOAH held the event with the same production; wrestlers were still announced, their video played, their music sounded them in and the winners out.
The event was broadcast live over both DDT Universe and Samurai TV, which in the case of DDT Universe, was said to have attracted an audience large enough to fill Korakuen Hall, and was comparable to the last time NOAH were there.
GHC Junior Heavyweight Tag Championship
STINGER (Kotaro Suzuki & Atsushi Kotoge) vs RATELS (HAYATA & YO-HEY)
I think out of everyone it was YO-HEY who missed the fans the most as he loves to play up to them and excite them. I think there were times when he forgot there was no one there, and it kind of dawned on him as a lot of what he did was force of habit. For the more silent and a lot less outgoing HAYATA, it was the probably the best title match he had ever done as there was no one around.
STINGER fought the match in usual STINGER style, by which I mean they attacked HAYATA’S ribs, with Kotoge even going into the empty audience to do it. Despite the attacks on HAYATA’S ribs, the keeping YO-HEY away to do it, and the teamwork from both sides, you could see the desperation in both sides in the last minute kickouts; this match could not end in a draw or disqualification, it had to end in a pinfall, and it was HAYATA who bought the belts back home to RATELS after two years and about two or three months, with the Headache for the three count on Atsushi Kotoge.
Despite there being no one in the arena other than press, cameramen and ring crew, HAYATA still felt the need to hide behind the belt. YO-HEY, however, was naturally not as reserved.
No challengers have come forward as of yet.
GHC National Championship
Takashi Sugiura vs Minoru Tanaka
Takashi Sugiura faced his first junior challenger for the National in a historic match in a historic event under unusual circumstances. Tanaka found that the best weapon against Sugiura was to attack his arm, but ultimately he couldn’t stand up to the force of nature which is Takashi Sugiura, and the match went only 14 minutes, 35 seconds which was the shortest of the evening. The title match ended after a series of submission reversals, which ended with Takashi Sugiura getting the win.
Sadly for Minoru Tanaka, he sustained an almost broken ankle, and damage to his other foot which caused massive bruising, and was hospitalized.
For Takashi Sugiura, his next challenger made himself known; Katsuhiko Nakajima bought his best Cheshire Cat grin and Velociraptor on the hunt body language to the ring to challenge. Nakajima said that he liked that red belt, it looked tasty, he would like to challenge for it.
Sugiura asked the audience (there were none) and then the people at home, “Yes or No” if they agreed to the challenge. Well, whatever it was people said two facts remain; Sugiura granted this most annoying of challengers a title shot, and no one in NOAH can wind up Sugiura like Nakajima does.
Due to the global Coronavirus pandemic, no date has of yet been set for the challenge.
NOAH held an interval as usual in which a few announcements were made:
- Kaito Kiyomiya came out and sent a brief message to Japan, telling everyone to hang on in there
- Keiji Mutoh, Osamu Nishimura and Kazuyuki Sakuraba will be returning to NOAH on the 18th April
- Kenoh ranted in a video package about a new member of Kongoh, who will be introduced on the 18th April. On the screen he shook hands with someone unseen, and then we saw a muscled arm with a telltale mole. Fan guesses as to whom this might be include Manabu Soya or Daisuke Sekimoto. Hideki Suzuki has joked its him.
- Kenoh, flanked by Yoshiki Inamura and Masa Kitamiya, then came out to the ring dressed in his ringwear, and growled that he couldn’t see any of the usual Korakuen fuckers, and then repeated what he had said in the video about the new member.
GHC Junior Heavyweight
Yoshinari Ogawa vs Daisuke Harada
A very technical match showcasing just how good Daisuke Harada is, and just how much Yoshinari Ogawa, a man in his fifties, can go almost half an hour with a much younger wrestler and not lose a step.
At the start of the match, Yoshinari Ogawa started making a fuss as he was determined that the match would be belt versus belt (GHC Junior vs IPW Junior Heavyweight); but Harada had not bought the IPW belt with him, and in the end the referee had the GHC Junior bought to the ring, and announced the match. Ogawa now had no choice but to go through with it; and he was going to make Harada pay for it. Being a very psychological wrestler very little in the ring escapes him, he can sense what you will do next, he knows the corners to wait around; he knows what your weak parts are without you even knowing it was vulnerable, and he worked and worked on Harada’s arm, even one time in front of RATELS.
With the quick pin Ogawa managed to win over Daisuke Harada after 26 minutes, 39 seconds, but although Harada looked as if his eyes were going to light up in flames, the threat did not come from RATELS who left the ring soon after, the threat came from Kotaro Suzuki.
Ogawa had often made the statement in the build up to the match that he would “destroy STINGER and RATELS”, but it was Suzuki who destroyed STINGER. As Ogawa lay prostrate on the mat, Suzuki got on the microphone and said he was challenging. Later asked why he did that, Suzuki said that when he returned to NOAH he had two ambitions in mind; he would challenge both Yoshinari Ogawa and Naomichi Marufuji for belts. Marufuji was different, he had a singles match with him last year (but he still wants to challenge him for the GHC Heavyweight tag belts); and now here was his chance to face Ogawa.